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SummaryIt's a gnasty world out there
The GoodWhile I was growing up in the Nineties, I was still playing PC favorites Commander Keen, Xargon, and Jill of the Jungle. These are all 2-D platform games in which you have to run across the screen, fighting wildlife and using a series of colored keys to open locked doors. However, it was Spyro the Dragon that introduced me to the world of 3-D platform games.
The five dragon families lived in peace and harmony, until Gnasty Gnorc came along. He made a nuisance of himself, that the dragons had to banish him to a faraway world, which Gnasty renamed “Gnasty's World”. He didn't like this one bit, so he decided to use one spell he discovered to turn all the dragons into crystal, and another to transform all the radiant jewels into Gnorc soldiers. Fortunately, Gnasty failed to turn one dragon into crystal – a cute purple dragon named Spyro.
The game has you visiting up to six worlds consisting of six levels each. Most of the worlds, particularly "Artisans", "Magic Crafters", and "Dream Weavers" contain the most beautiful environments that are worth exploring every inch. To get through the game, you must explore to collect as many jewels as you can and freeing dragons to get hints on the level you are in.
Unlike platform games of old, you must learn some advanced moves other than just jumping and flaming, and these moves will more often than not help you in getting what you want. If you see one dragon and lots of gems around on a distant platform, it makes sense to "glide" over to it, and to destroy metal boxes that can't be opened simply by flaming or "charging" at them, perhaps you should "super-charge" at it. I enjoyed performing this last move as it provides more of a challenge, especially when combined with jump. You also have to avoid smashing into walls by accident.
As I said earlier, the environments in each world are rich and beautifully drawn, but these vary for the different portals that you enter. One way to determine what the environment will look like is just stand near the portal and check out the scrolling background. I enjoyed walking around the lush, green meadows in the “Artisans”, with its bright blue skies and water flowing into pools. To demonstrate how beautiful that “Artisans” really is, chirping birds can be heard in the backgrounds, giving you the feel that you are actually there. I also enjoyed gliding in mid-air, turning corners to reach an area that cannot be done by jumping.
Speaking of sounds, I enjoyed the excellent soundtrack that occupies each world and level, and the different pieces of music reflect what situation you are in. Levels that have that 'Pretty' theme to them have that easy music, while levels that have you defeating a boss have music that is of high impact. More than one piece of music can be played in most levels, giving you a variety of tunes to listen to while you are trying to complete the level. The sound effects are superb as well. You can always tell what's around you, whether it is the blue thief mocking you or the trapped dragon shaking. I enjoyed listening to Spyro's voice, especially when he says “Where's Gnasty Gnorc? I'm going after him.” at the very start of the game. It makes him sound like a little brat. I also enjoyed him licking himself like a cat or dog when you decide to stop playing Spyro for a few seconds.
You can rotate the camera to see what is left or right, not just straight ahead. This is useful if you want to know what Gnorcs are coming toward you. There are two camera types. Active camera moves right along with you everywhere, while Passive lets you get a good look at the scenery. There are disadvantages in using these cameras, so you need to work out which camera is best to work with. I enjoyed using the Triangle button to bypass the cameras, giving me a good chance to look around.
When you reach a pedestal with a fairy floating above it, you are given an opportunity to save a game onto your memory card, or replay the dragon's message if you had lost track of what he said. I saved whenever I find a pedestal, just in case I happened to miss one. A different fairy kisses you, causing you to turn red and you can deal with much stronger enemies that you cannot do with your flame or charging at them.
You only have a limited number of lives, but you can revisit levels and stock up on pearls by defeating enemies. Form a circle of these pearls and you earn an extra life. You also get lives by flaming purple coffins, where a set of eyes pop up from inside.
In Crash Bandicoot, your overall percentage is listed in the stats screen, and achieving 100% of the game givs you access to an alternate ending and a few other goodies. The same can be said with Spyro. But does it matter if you reach 100%? No, because all it does is give you a bonus level after you defeat Gnasty.
The BadAs a person who likes to explore every level, I really wanted to have access to this bonus level but I couldn't master the flight levels which are essential in getting 100%. Basically, in these levels you have to get ten of the same object as well as getting them all at once. This, and even flying, is hard to do, because if you fly too low or smash into a wall, you end up falling in the drink.